Apple has filed a US patent application for a new kind of wearable device: A smart ring. Dubbed the iRing by AppleInsider, the design suggests a device similar in its functionality to the recently launched Apple Watch, but on a smaller scale.
The iRing would feature a small screen, a computer engine, and some biometric capabilities. Users would interact with the device via voice and gesture command, or touch input, with the iRing sporting pressure-sensitive 3D Touch capabilities (known as Force Touch until a Huawei device beat Apple to the market with its own version). It also features a control similar to the Digital Crown on the Apple Watch, allowing the user to interact without blocking the small screen with her finger.
Apple’s engineers appear to envision the iRing not so much as an end product in itself, but a means of interacting with other Apple devices such as an iPhone or an Apple TV. The iRing would also feature haptic feedback capabilities, buzzing the user’s finger for certain notifications.
Intriguingly, the iRing’s motion-sensing accelerometer and gyroscope technologies could allow for some highly refined gesture recognition; as Apple Insider notes, it could track users’ handwriting, and the patent application even lays out a system of e-transfer via handshake for financial transactions.
There are no official plans – at least, none publicly known – for Apple to bring such a device to the market anytime soon. But while the mass market appears to remain lukewarm toward the Apple Watch, the company seems to be considering the long-term possibilities of wearable devices with this newest patent application.